PM Browne calls on trade unions to be less combative

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Trade Unionists are being asked to be less confrontational when they approach government, in the interest of their members.
Prime minister, and minister of Finance and Corporate Governance, Gaston Browne told the delegates at the opening of the 48th Annual General Conference of the Caribbean Public Services Association, (CPSA), that on too many occasions, unions resort to industrial action, as one of the first courses of action.
“It seems to be a culture, that in order to get anything done, it has to be a combative relationship,” the prime minister said.
“There are issues affecting workers from time to time, but it doesn’t mean that you have to resort to strike action in the first instance. I want to suggest that you look at the way in which you engage the government, and to understand that you can achieve the objectives through means that are not necessarily adversarial.”
The prime minister also said that even when the government makes certain decisions that are in the “best interest” of workers, the unions “push back” against those decisions.
 He also suggested that trade unionists must consider their country’s fiscal climate before making demands on governments since there are too many occasions in which unions make demands that are near impossible to fulfil.
“I understand the aspirations of unions, but you have to balance those aspirations with the realities facing the various governments within the Caribbean. When you’re negotiating and making demands for 50 per cent increase you ought to know that, that is not achievable and I find that it is a waste of time to make those demands,” he elaborated.
Acknowledging that Caribbean public servants are underpaid, PM Browne said that “structural problems” exist that would “negate” fixing the various problems, which the unions face, in one “swoop, including salary increase”.
“I’m of the view, that there has to be a more open approach between the unions and the respective governments and we have to share information and for this budgetary cycle we will invite the unions to participate in the budgetary process so that they can better understand the capacity of the government,” the minister of finance stated.
The CPSA has attracted over 100 delegates who are currently in Antigua until July 28.
The theme for this year’s event is “focusing on quality public services for the advancement and survival of public officers”.

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